Batman: Blackgate Prison Shoots From Iron Heights


They tell us that while history doesn’t repeat itself, it certainly rhymes. Batman: A Dark Knight # 1 (by Jock and Clem Robins) gives us a great example of this when it comes to law enforcement overbreadth and the belief that you can treat prisoners like commodities.

It’s akin to a lesson director Gregory Wolfe abruptly learned from the pages of Flash: iron heights. The new manager of Iron Heights, Central City’s most notorious prison, Wolfe, decided the Flash Rogues had been having it too easy for too long. He was the city’s proverbial new sheriff and he planned to make an impact. Every prisoner in Iron Heights would feel the hard hand of the state under their watch. Wolfe made it clear that in his mind a criminal once, always a criminal.

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Batman hits AF

Therefore, punishment was the only reasonable course of action. For all the overpowered villains, masks as the guards called them, that meant staying in individual cells in the “Pipeline.” For some, like Weather Wizard, it also meant painful muscle cramps thanks to Wolfe’s metahuman abilities and copious bruises thanks to the batons of the Iron Heights guards. For others, the punishments were worse. Much worse.

One of those particularly disadvantaged prisoners was Neil Borman, Fallout. Somehow he survived when an accident sent him and the rest of his masonry team into a nuclear reactor. It didn’t come out unchanged, however. Instead, the crash turned it into a walking atomic fuel cell. Unfortunately, he realized that he had accidentally killed his wife and child with radiation poisoning too late. Heartbroken, he surrendered immediately.

Unfortunately, Iron Heights chose not to follow the recommended protocol for his incarceration. Instead of a state-of-the-art cell that would protect others and spare his pain, Wolfe and Heights turned Fallout into a battery. For who knows how long, Wolfe used the poor man to power Iron Heights, regardless of the pain it caused Borman or the risk to others. Predictably, Fallout escaped as Wolfe tried to hide his malicious activity from Flash and others.

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Fallout suffers in Blackgate

Without the proper restraints, Fallout could have hurt or killed a lot. If he had decided to do more than walk to his family’s grave, Central City could have experienced a living nuclear disaster causing death with every step. Luckily, Wally West convinced Fallout to return, and STAR Labs provided him with a place to live that kept his Iron Heights comfortable and fueled safe.

Now in Gotham City, Blackgate Prison looks like it’s on the verge of making the same mistake. Like Wolfe, Prisons Bureau Chief Rita Vasquez has a decidedly different view of proper incarceration than many in power. In her case, however, she has no intention of hiding what she’s doing in dark basements while feigning innocence in front of the costumes and superheroes. Instead, she wants everyone to see what she’s doing.

To this end, she asks GCPD to move a leading criminal, the EMP supervillain, from Arkham to Blackgate via public transport. As the convoy passes through the heart of the City, Vasquez also announces the plan to the press. Therefore, everyone knows where he is and where he is going. Everyone, including a team of reckless criminals seeking revenge on the EMP

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A Dark Knight Device - EMP in Blackgate

If they don’t have it, sitting in Blackgate’s basement is a generator. One built specifically to feed on its electromagnetic powers. Without him, the machine won’t work, the Blackgate team reveals. Specifically, the device will destroy itself, shutting down without EMP to feed. If one doesn’t see the failures of Iron Heights resonating in this situation, well, maybe one can relate to Vasquez.

Once again, an overzealous policeman favors punishment over rehabilitation. Once again, they hatch a plan to power a prison by exploiting a human. Once again, this overpowered human being has escaped out of pride and his powers threaten the entire city. Maybe they were wrong. Maybe history is just repeating itself.

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